For the 10th consecutive year, the New York State Assembly has failed to pass a pay equity legislative package that would end wage discrimination for New Yorkers.

“For all these years, I have worked with my colleagues in the Assembly to pass pay equity legislation and other bills addressing equality for women,” Assemb. Rhoda S. Jacobs, Brooklyn’s 42nd Assembly District representative told Caribbean Life.

“It is unfortunate that in New York State today we still have so many workers who are not earning equal pay for equal work,” she said, adding: “That’s not in line with New York’s commitment to equality, justice and fairness for all of our citizens. The legislative package I co-sponsored and helped pass would finally put an end to unfair pay gaps.”

Specifically, the Assembly legislation would make it easier to enforce equal pay regulations and create a state policy to determine and define “comparable work.” Additionally, the legislation would:

* Enact the New York State Fair Pay Act to address and enforce pay equity, including broadening equal pay protections to include equivalent jobs, making it unlawful for an employer to discriminate between employees on the basis of gender, race or national origin, and ensuring that traditional female and minority jobs are not undervalued (A.5958);

* Establish a state policy that local political subdivisions ensure equal pay for work of comparable value regardless of sex, race or national origin (A.1729);

* Implement a state policy that compensates employees in state service equally for work of comparable value by eliminating wage inequality for workers due to sex, race or national origin (A.753); and

* Design and publish a report evaluating wage disparities of public employees related to job titles, segregated by the gender, race and/or national origin of employees (A.881).

*The time for pay equity is now,” Jacobs said. “No worker should make less, simply because of their sex, race or national origin.”

Jacobs noted that unfair wages lead to unfair and unequal pensions too.

“Our pensions are based on our wages,” she said, adding: “Where our wages are less, so too are our pensions and that is not fair and it is not just.”

Women in New York make 84 cents for every dollar men earn, creating a substantial yearly pay gap of roughly $8,275 between men and women working full time in New York State. Further, minority women fare even worse, with African-American women being paid 64 cents and Latina women being paid just 55 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men nationally.

As a group, these full-time working women are paid nearly $23 billion less every year because of the wage gap. And since over one million households are headed by women, these disparities translate into further inequity, Jacobs noted. Specifically, if a woman in New York was paid equal pay for equal work, she could afford 63 more weeks of groceries; four more months of mortgage and utilities payments; eight more months of rent; or 2,116 additional gallons of gas each year.

“New York is historically a leader in implementing progressive policies, especially when it comes to equality,” Assemb. Jacobs, who serves in the leadership as the assistant speaker, and on the Rules, Ways & Means, Health and Insurance Committees, as well as the Task Force on Women’s Issues and the Task Force on New Americans, said. “Pay inequity and inexcusable wage disparities are wrongs we must make right – the sooner the better. It’s time to take swift action to make equal pay a reality for all New Yorkers,”mshe added.

The 42nd Assembly District includes sections of the Flatbush, Flatbush Gardens, Midwood, and Victorian Flatbush neighborhoods of Brooklyn.

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